Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Why I Choose Linux

Filed under
Linux

By Don Crowder

I never liked Windows. My Apple II+, which didn't have a hard drive and had only 48 Kilobytes of RAM, was a dinosaur by comparison to my first Windows machine but the Apple was an old friend who I understood and spent hundreds of pleasurable hours learning how to use. Windows, from the first, seemed unnecessarily complicated, adversarial, and difficult to learn. I learned it but there was little joy in the process. Maybe that's why Linux captured my interest and imagination from the first time I heard about it (back in nineteenmumble) but I was reluctant to just jump in and give it a try because it was difficult to imagine how anything free could truly be any good. After all, you get what you pay for; that's how the world has always worked.

When it became possible to buy a copy of Mandrake or SUSE Linux I avidly read every word I could find and agonized over which I should try and how was I going to get my hands on another computer because I wasn't letting go of my Windows machine until I knew how to use Linux. A few more years passed while I waffled and worried. In the end I resigned myself to becoming a competent, if reluctant, Windows user.

Things started to change when somebody gave us a Ubuntu live CD. Lisa and I enjoyed experimenting with it and later, after we switched from dial-up to DSL I learned how to download ISO files and burn my own live CDs. We tried over a dozen Linux distributions, decided that we both preferred KDE to Gnome and were especially fond of PCLinuxOS.

Using Linux became a doable reality when I lucked into a nice used computer. I installed PCLinuxOS on it, set Lisa up with a KVM switch (sharing her monitor, mouse and keyboard with her XP machine) and went looking for another used computer for me. All I could find (that I could also afford) was an older machine and the nicest distro I could get to run on it was Debian Sarge (via the net install). Sarge required a lot of post-install tweaking but I actually enjoyed learning to use it. For 25 years I was an electronics technician; I enjoy fixing things. It's what I do.

A lot has happened since then. Etch replaced Sarge as the stable version of Debian and Etch doesn't require any of the 'really geeky' post install tweaks but it has it's own set of useful tweaks that enable it do all sorts of things I could never figure out how to do in Sarge. What was once my new Windows machine is running Debian Etch and I have a slightly older, slower machine next to it, running Windows XP (which I almost never turn on anymore). I won't stop using Windows altogether because I have friends, family and a few hundred ezine readers who still use it. I don't want to lose touch with them but I, finally, have other options and that makes me very happy.

If I had no other reason for preferring Linux to Windows, these two would suffice:

1. For the first eighteen months after I started using Linux I didn't know how to install a firewall or anti-virus software so I just did without them and never had a problem. I've since installed both but don't always remember to turn them on. When I do turn them on, they seem to consume only a tiny fraction of my system resources.

2. If I notice anything different after updating my Linux machine it's only that things seem to work a little better and none of my system settings are ever altered in the slightest by updates.

Linux has not only been free, it's paid me rich dividends. I've used Linux for a little over two years and in that time I've learned more about the 'insides' of a computer than I learned in the preceding twenty years. For me, learning something new has always been the best payoff of all.

Sounds familiar...

I, too, was an avid Apple II user, but I followed that up with a Mac. Then it was Windows. The world seemed to all be shifting toward this standardization. No one was going to use anything else. The nails were being put in the Mac's coffin...

My formidable years were spent on Apple II machines. ProDOS...Applesoft BASIC... It was all fun. It was the perfect hobbyist's computer, for the time. But somewhere along the line, someone felt that they had to take all the fun out of computing. Windows was such a beast. It was serious. All the software titles seemed to mean business. What a drag... Now, it's even worse with DRM and Microsoft's focus on the Xbox 360.

Then, I found Red Hat Linux 5.2, but couldn't figure it out. I upgraded to 6.0...still no luck with this thing, but I pressed on. But then...I discovered Mandrake 7.0. It had KDE and URPMI. I started to make sense of it all. My life has never been the same, since. I've pretty much left Windows far behind. Linux is so much fun. There's so much to learn - so much to explore.

I'm happily using PCLinuxOS after jumping around a few distros over the years. I'll never look back. I still miss my Apple IIGS, though!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

KaOS 2018.01 KDE-focused Linux distro now available with Spectre and Meltdown fixes

It can be difficult to find a quality Linux distribution that meets your needs. This is partly because there are just too many operating systems from which to choose. My suggestion is to first find a desktop environment that you prefer, and then narrow down your distro search to one that focuses on that DE. For instance, if you like KDE, both Kubuntu and Netrunner are solid choices. With all of that said, there is another KDE-focused Linux distro that I highly recommend. Called "KaOS," it is rolling release, meaning you can alway be confident that your computer is running modern packages. Today, KaOS gets its first updated ISO for 2018, and you should definitely use it to upgrade your install media. Why? Because version 2018.01 has fixes for Spectre and Meltdown thanks to Linux kernel 4.14.14 with both AMD and Intel ucode. Read more

Today in Techrights

KDE: Linux and Qt in Automotive, KDE Discover, Plasma5 18.01 in Slackware

  • Linux and Qt in Automotive? Let’s meet up!
    For anyone around the Gothenburg area on Feb 1st, you are most welcome to the Automotive MeetUp held at the Pelagicore and Luxoft offices. There will be talks about Qt/QML, our embedded Linux platform PELUX and some ramblings about open source in automotive by yours truly ;-)
  • What about AppImage?
    I see a lot of people asking about state of AppImage support in Discover. It’s non-existent, because AppImage does not require centralized software management interfaces like Discover and GNOME Software (or a command-line package manager). AppImage bundles are totally self-contained, and come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and can be managed on the filesystem using your file manager This should sound awfully familiar to former Mac users (like myself), because Mac App bundles are totally self-contained, come straight from the developer with zero middlemen, and are managed using the Finder file manager.
  • What’s new for January? Plasma5 18.01, and more
    When I sat down to write a new post I noticed that I had not written a single post since the previous Plasma 5 announcement. Well, I guess the past month was a busy one. Also I bought a new e-reader (the Kobo Aura H2O 2nd edition) to replace my ageing Sony PRS-T1. That made me spend a lot of time just reading books and enjoying a proper back-lit E-ink screen. What I read? The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams, A Shadow all of Light by Fred Chappell, Persepolis Rising and several of the short stories (Drive, The Butcher of Anderson Station, The Churn and Strange Dogs) by James SA Corey and finally Red Sister by Mark Lawrence. All very much worth your time.

GNU/Linux: Live Patching, Gravity of Kubernetes, Welcome to 2018

  • How Live Patching Has Improved Xen Virtualization
    The open-source Xen virtualization hypervisor is widely deployed by enterprises and cloud providers alike, which benefit from the continuous innovation that the project delivers. In a video interview with ServerWatch, Lars Kurth, Chairman of the Xen Project Advisory Board and Director, Open Source Solutions at Citrix, details some of the recent additions to Xen and how they are helping move the project forward.
  • The Gravity of Kubernetes
    Most new internet businesses started in the foreseeable future will leverage Kubernetes (whether they realize it or not). Many old applications are migrating to Kubernetes too. Before Kubernetes, there was no standardization around a specific distributed systems platform. Just like Linux became the standard server-side operating system for a single node, Kubernetes has become the standard way to orchestrate all of the nodes in your application. With Kubernetes, distributed systems tools can have network effects. Every time someone builds a new tool for Kubernetes, it makes all the other tools better. And it further cements Kubernetes as the standard.
  • Welcome to 2018
    The image of the technology industry as a whole suffered in 2017, and that process is likely to continue this year as well. That should lead to an increased level of introspection that will certainly affect the free-software community. Many of us got into free software to, among other things, make the world a better place. It is not at all clear that all of our activities are doing that, or what we should do to change that situation. Expect a lively conversation on how our projects should be run and what they should be trying to achieve. Some of that introspection will certainly carry into projects related to machine learning and similar topics. There will be more interesting AI-related free software in 2018, but it may not all be beneficial. How well will the world be served, for example, by a highly capable, free facial-recognition system and associated global database? Our community will be no more effective than anybody else at limiting progress of potentially freedom-reducing technologies, but we should try harder to ensure that our technologies promote and support freedom to the greatest extent possible. Our 2017 predictions missed the fact that an increasing number of security problems are being found at the hardware level. We'll not make the same mistake in 2018. Much of what we think of as "hardware" has a great deal of software built into it — highly proprietary software that runs at the highest privilege levels and which is not subject to third-party review. Of course that software has bugs and security issues of its own; it couldn't really be any other way. We will see more of those issues in 2018, and many of them are likely to prove difficult to fix.